Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Baby Quilt Finished (with Handiquilter Sweet 16)

Finished my Bugs Baby Quilt...not a minute too soon! The baby was born on a Friday and I finished the quilting on the Sunday.


I like this pattern, looks very cute indeed
I just did a simple meander design over it as I was quilting it on the new machine. Needless to say I am still getting used to it and thought that it is best to do a design that I am really familiar with. As time was of the essence I also used a wool batting rather than the thin cotton batting that I have, as I figured this would be more forgiving in terms of any tension issues.
The Sweet 16 performed consistently and I had no tension issues at all once I had set the bobbin tension to the correct position. I used Aurifil 50/2 in the bobbin as I had been practising with that thread and figured that I had that bobbin tension pretty right. On top I used Aurifil 40/2 thread in a yellow colour. While I was meandering over the quilt I checked the back fearing tension disasters or sloppy tension, but the tension remained consistently good and I had no issues (even when I had to put a new bobbin in when the thread ran out). Was impressed with this as I had read various horror tension issues on several forums on the internet.

I do find that once you get the bobbin tension correct, it is relatively easy to set the top tension and you are good to go. Speed was a bit of an issue for me and as I had predicted, I had to stitch at 20 %. Any more than that and my stitches were getting a tad too small. It was good to go on a real quilt to practice...I tend to learn more from that than just practice samples as I obviously have a stake in getting it right. There are many adjustments for me to make and some I am struggling more with then others, speed being one of them. I am used to stitching relatively slow and deliberate and quilting at that 20 % was faster than I normally do. At the moment I am getting slightly disoriented when looking at the needle because it feels and looks so entirely different, but time on the machine will fix this. When I started off I got very confused also as I was scrunching up my quilt as per usual and the whole thing unraveled to lie flat...given its lap size, I did not have to scrunch it up under the machine and that was the weirdest feeling...felt as if I was quilting in the wrong direction as I only had to slightly fold it over at the back. Also my hands were a hoot. As I was quilting faster, my hands were being left behind and I had to continuously re-adjust my hand position and stop and start. That initially produced some wobbles here and there but I soon got the hang of it.

What I did notice was the speed at which I finished this piece...I started quilting on the Sunday afternoon and was finished by the evening (with a few interruptions in between). I think this was mainly due to not having to re-position the quilt all the time...I literally could go freely from left to right and back again without having to do any major shifts.

Overall very happy with how this quilt turned out and pleased that I was able to do it on the new machine. It is onto the next quilt now for me as I have got a lot to learn and adjust to.


Karin

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

And Here She Is...

Got a phone call shortly after the quilt show to pick up the Handiquilter Sweet 16 from the shop which send me into a mild panic as that meant that I had to shift my sewing room around which meant cleaning up the mess and re-organizing my quilting space in general.

We picked up the boxes on a Saturday...4 big boxes, one with the machine, one for the table (very heavy), one for the overlay and another one for an extension which I purchased as an extra. The drive home was memorable as the car was filled to the brim.

As I bought the machine as a show special it also came with an added value box. Given that we were in the process of shifting everything around I opened this first as I had to wait for some other things to get in their place before we could tackle the machine.

The value box was incredible...just like Christmas
All these beautiful threads, I could not believe it...big thank you to Handiquilter. That is amazing...such fantastic thread!

Well, then came the unpacking of the machine and table. I was going to take photos but it was all too much with the change of room. The setting up of the machine is not difficult and it came together fairly quickly. There are several videos you can watch which takes you through the set up in some detail.

This is how I set up the room
Extension flap on the left and work table on the right. While this looks fantastic, I will need to change this again as my work table is now too low. Also a bit unclear at the moment whether I should have put the machine a notch higher...all very confusing, too many changes in one hit for me.

Well, it was a few days before I actually tried it and I must say, yes, very different. The first thing that presented as an issue was getting the right tension happening. I approached it with a sense of 'how difficult can this be?'. Wow...the frustration level got quite high after half a day of mucking around. It reminded me of when I started to FMQ all those years ago. As I got flustered I then switched thread, needle, samples and I soon had lost the plot. I then stopped and started to think 'come on, you know this stuff, think this through!' I had watched several YouTube videos and was following them to the letter. In the end I thought, go with what you think is going on. As I was using Aurifil 50/2 thread on a very thin cotton batting, I had the sense that the bobbin tension needed to be tighter to pull the top down...I then followed my own feeling on how tight I wanted it and got it to a stage where the bobbin was a nudge before being too tight. I then re-threaded the machine and off I went...perfect tension! This was encouraging and and I then played a bit with one of the beautiful Superior threads, using one the prewound bobbins that was included in the pack. Yep, that also worked for me with some adjustments to the bobbin and top tension.
Over the next few days I went back to the Aurifil thread and my own bobbins that I had wound on the bobbin winder (forgot to mention...that also comes with the machine) to see whether I could maintain the quality of the stitching or whether it was a bit of a fluke getting it right the first time. Was happy with my bobbin winding and the stitching produced good quality stitches both on the front...
as well as on the back
So, that's how far I got...now I will have to get used to the speed. Struggle to maintain control when going too fast and cannot find a comfortable speed that suits me at the moment. Everything is too new...I am looking at the needle differently, the sound of the machine is different, the set up is different altogether and the machine behaves differently altogether. One thing I do like is ruler quilting though...have two little Handiquilter rulers and am very impressed with them. Nice and chunky and the lines are just where you need them. Also love the basting stitch...very cool feature!
I will shortly go onto a quilt I need to finish...probably just going to do a meander because I will be able to do that at about 20% speed (haha...I think some people quilt at speeds of 50% and above). I feel that I am struggling against the rhythm of this machine and need to get a feel for that.  I'll see whether I can manage to do that with one of the new threads or whether I stick with the Aurifil for the time being.

Lots to learn!


Karin

Monday, 31 July 2017

Festival of Quilts 2017

A few weeks have passed but I thought I show you the finished Wholecloth that went into the quilt show.

I won 1st place in the Traditional Small category
Still thought the colour was somewhat odd when I was looking at it in the quilt show but was really happy with all the detail and obviously really chuffed with the blue ribbon.

The quilt show was from the 13 - 15th of July and I had planned to post some photos, however things got way too busy and I struggled to keep up with the pace.

Hopefully I now can get back into some sort of routine.


Karin

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Handiquilter Sweet 16

Sweet Sixteen In Studio
Image from handiquilter.com

So I went for my test drive on the HQ Sweet 16. I have been researching this machine for some time now and also have tried it many times at the local quilt shows over the years. I went to do a bit of a test drive to look at specific issues that were important to me, like
Thread: brought a spool of Aurifil thread with me and ask the lady to stitch with that as this is the thread that I use most of the time; she quickly changed over the thread, did a few adjustments and off we went. Stitched like a dream.
Speed: Obviously I am not used to that level of speed adjustment (from 0 -100%) and did a bit of playing with that, stitching initially at about 30%. Did some swirls at that speed...noticed that my points were very tidy due to the speed. There was no hesitation and stitching a couple of times into the point. Looked much neater overall. One of my main concerns was precision...I can stitch very precisely on my Pfaff 4.2, aligning my needle where I want it to be, stitching back over the same line of stitching in an orderly fashion (in fact I make a bit of a sport out of backstitching into the same hole of the stitching when I get bored with repetitive designs).
Actually quite funny, as I was talking about not being able to reach the hand wheel to align my stitch, I saw that I would not need that due to the visibility that you have. Sitting on my Pfaff QE 4.2 I am looking over to the needle which is a short distance away due to the machine being sunk into the table. On the Sweet 16 I felt that you are looking directly on the top of the needle due to being much closer to the machine...hence no issues with aligning the needle if you want to start at a particular spot. I then played with the different speeds, going right down to 10% to test the backtracking. While this would require some more practice, I found that I could be fairly precise...probably just need to find the appropriate speed for me (10 seemed a bit slow and 15 seemed a tad too fast for backtracking.
Ruler foot: the machine comes with two feet, an open toe foot and a closed ruler foot. They also now have a new Ruler foot (Sure foot) which is a bit higher but I did not try that. I asked the lady for a ruler and played a bit with that, being ever so careful 😀(had visions of breaking their ruler!). That felt obviously very different than doing it on my DSM, so I was a bit extra careful and went super slow. Loved it of course, as the visibility was really good.
Basting stitch: The machine has a basting stitch that you can set for several different intervals. I could have used that for my last wholecloth  (had to hand baste it as I had two layers of batting and going over that with my machine did not work). That was fun to do and I could see a multitude of uses for that. Very handy indeed.
Apart from that I was just playing, so much so that I told the lady I was just playing around and did not need to explore this any further. I have watched a ton of videos and read lots of reviews so I knew the other features of the machine and what was involved for example with the tension adjustments.

Cut a long story short, I put down a deposit and will have the machine in about 2 weeks. I love my Pfaff QE 4.2 and the way it FMQ. I am fairly proficient and have no trouble quilting a quilt on the machine, however my posture and the visibility have been an issue. Posture mainly because my machine is sunk into a Horn cabinet...which is great due to the flat surface, however I am slouching over the machine and no matter what chair I am using I quilt in that slouching position. Given that I quilt for hours this gives me a lot of trouble with my shoulders and back. Visibility on my machine is overall very good, however particularly when quilting with rulers the machine is in the way of seeing how to align the ruler. So you end up looking slightly sideways around the face of the machine...again, not good for the neck and shoulders. That is probably the main reason I started to look at sit down longarm machines. I did see the Simply 16 with the Little Foot frame, however I was pretty clear about not wanting a frame. I am a pretty lazy quilter and the thought of having to clamp a quilt repeatedly onto the frame was just not for me. I reckon that that would drive me crazy. I prefer freedom of movement and do not mind pushing a quilt through a machine.

Anyway, now I need to change rooms to accommodate the machine. While the HQ is not huge, I do want to keep my Pfaff in the Horn cabinet and also want to keep my cutting table and the current sewing room is just too small, so we are going to change one of the bedrooms around and make it into a sewing room. This will still be squishy but I think it will work. Bit of work ahead to move everything over, but I am just happy that I can have a dedicated sewing room.

As luck has it, the sewing shop will participate in the Handiquilter Ruler of the Month Club which will start in August, so I signed up for that as well. This will run over 6 mths with demonstrations and tutorials and you will get a different ruler every month. This will be handy as I only have one ruler at the moment which is the 1/4in thickness required, so this should give me a good selection to start of with.

Super excited!


Karin

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Relaxation

My Wholecloth has gone into the Festival of Quilts which will run over here from 14 -16/7/17. Looking forward to this and have taken a few days off work for this.

So now I am back to piecing and let me tell you, it shows that I have not done any piecing for approx. 5 months.
However thanks to the Accuquilt GO cutter, at least my cutting is accurate. I am actually amazed with what ease the half square triangles come together even though you are sewing them together on the bias. Much more accurate than if I would do it the normal way of sewing two squares together and then cutting it on the diagonal.

This is what I am working on...a baby quilt that needs to be finished before 4 weeks are up
Finally using that 'bug' fabric that I have had for years. Very cute! The quilt will look something like this (except for the mistake in the corner)
Very colourful...there are actually a number of ways to lay this out and I have not completely settled on one design. I am playing around with it in the EQ7 program to see which one I might like best.

In addition I am chain-piecing another quilt together while I am doing the above. I won some Moda Charm Squares at our local Guild meeting some time ago - Get a Clue with Nancy Drew. Not sure who or what this is...looks like coming from a teenage novel. To use this up I decided to just put some sashing in between.
I am planning to use this for ruler practice. The quilt should come to about lap size and I am sure, someone will like it. Thinking of doing some simple arcs in the squares, practising some in-the-ditch quilting with the ruler and something simple in the sashing. Looking forward to this.

Linking up with Let's Bee Social over at Sew Fresh Quilts

Karin

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Finished!

I actually finished my Wholecloth.
Here I am echoing around those feathers...that took the longest time. As I am entering this quilt in the upcoming Festival of Quilts I was on a very tight schedule to finish in order to be able to take a photo for my online entry. Had to make a to-do-list as I was seriously dragging my feet. I think I have been working on this for the last 5 months or so and in the end I did run out of steam a bit. No idea what I think of it, however that is not unusual for me. Happened also last year when I was doing the white Wholecloth...I think after so many months you just loose perspective and any sense of what this looks like.

Nevertheless I have entered it and it will look great on display, no doubt. It is a smallish quilt measuring only around 30in x 30in. Not sure exactly how that happened, but I think I forgot to add another echo around one of the borders that was there in my original drawing (hilarious!). At the moment I am adding the finishing touches. Managed to finish the sleeve and the label and have spend the last few days sewing this to the back of the quilt. Also figured out a better way to make my labels which I will blog about a different time. Now I only have to sew a cover piece to the label, label my bag and then I am done! Quite a process always and I am always glad when the quilt is finally gone.

Apart from this I am spending most of my time on the internet, researching midarm machines, Yes, the time has come for me to make a decision. I have been looking at the Handiquilter Sweet 16 for the last few years and now am cursing a bit as the prices have gone up a fair bit...feel that it is time to either go for it or let it be. I am quite conflicted about this as I love my Pfaff QE 4.2 but particularly with this quilt I really felt that I need more space to see what I am doing (particularly with larger rulers). So lots of soul searching going on at the moment for me...do I really need this? No, probably not. I could continue on my Pfaff and muddle my way through some of the challenges. On the other hand, if I go for the HQ16 I could extend myself a bit more and focus in on ruler quilting a bit more. I have read a number of reviews by now and am a bit unsure as there seems to be a fair bit of fiddling with the tension. That in itself does not deter me however I do enjoy that I can just sit down at my machine and go for it. Nowadays I do not need to make a lot of adjustments as I know the machine well. So well actually, that I mostly quilt by sound...very rarely do I look at the back to see whether my stitching is ok as I can hear when it is going out of whack. Getting used to another machine...just don't know. We shall see where this leads me...probably will organise to go for an extended test drive and then have a look what sorts of specials they offer for the upcoming show.


For the time being it's back to piecing for me...have to make a baby quilt and am hoping that I'll finish this before the baby actually arrives. Left that a bit very late.

Karin

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Compaction Issues

Still stitching away on my Wholecloth...

Thought I show you a picture of the compaction that occurred having stitched the broad structures first and then working my way back into the middle to do the background quilting
This was taken in front of the window on a fairly sunny day, hence the shadows. Even I got a bit nervous about the amount of compaction that I had and wondered whether this would actually be able to be quilted down.

Too late to do anything about it other than giving it a shot...

 You would not have thought that this could be flattened, but it did! Amazing...all I have left is to fill in the grid and go over the feathers again, doing some in-lining. Not sure actually whether I still like this piece, but so be it...just needs to be finished now. This looked so easy when I started, but probably one of the more challenging projects I have done in a while.

Karin